I’ve been inspired. The Illinois AgriNews had this excellent article on the front page discussing the history of the corduroy jacket. That’s right my friends, the history of the FFA jacket. According to ffa.org there are currently 557,318 members in 7,498 chapters in all 50 states including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That is a relatively large chunk of the young population sporting the national blue and corn gold.
It all started in 1933 when Gus Lintner, advisor of the Future Farmers of America, decided to get a jacket made for his chapter to wear to the national convention in Kansas City. It turned out to be such a hit that they were voted to be part of the official dress from then on. Over the years, the jacket has changed with the goals of the FFA. In the 1950′s, members wore the jacket on the farm. Today, the jacket is only worn during official events.
According to the article, “Vintage jackets had snaps instead of zippers, embroidered emblems rather than sewn-on patch emblems and square pockets instead of rounded ones. The fabric is 100% cotton, which is shipped as raw cotton to China for weaving and dyeing and to Vietnam for cutting and sewing.”
Today, the jacket costs $50 compared to 1933 when it only costs $5.50. The first time I ever wore official dress, I thought it was the craziest outfit. I mean navy blue and black did NOT go together. And don’t even get me started on the fact that I had to wear a skirt and the guys got to wear pants. Just as the jacket has changed over time, so have my views of official dress. I realized that black and navy did, in fact, go together, especially if there was a fancy FFA emblem involved. I began to take pride, not only in myself, but in the organization when I donned the national blue and corn gold. To this day, I have yet to find an organization that plays such a huge role in shaping young people into successful career individuals.